What a satisfying end to an incredible series. I was so excited for this concluding book that I bought and started reading the ebook as soon as I realWhat a satisfying end to an incredible series. I was so excited for this concluding book that I bought and started reading the ebook as soon as I realized it was released.
I will write a more comprehensive review when my mind and heart have stopped racing. But I will say that this book thrilled and enchanted me all throughout reading....more
I had never heard of this young adult dystopian novel (a real genre in its own right now) until attending BookCon earlier this year. The con itself waI had never heard of this young adult dystopian novel (a real genre in its own right now) until attending BookCon earlier this year. The con itself was a bit of a mess with too many attendees, too few organizers who knew what they were doing. But I was able to walk away with quite a few freebies, and was also able to attend a few great panels, one of which was a Q&A with Veronica Roth and Alex London. I loved this panel so much, and was surprised that I had, since the Divergent trilogy had left me slightly disappointed. But the reason I loved it was the incredible rapport between the two authors, and the way they talked about their writing processes and the depth of thought that went into crafting their characters. I was immediately intrigued by London's discussion of Proxy and I was determined to read it as quickly as possible.
Alas other books got in the way, and I wasn't able to procure a copy of Proxy until months later, but as soon as I cracked it open, it sucked me in and I was blown away. First of all, London created a fantastic, yet utterly chilling and believable future in which the poor are held in crushing debt to the rich, so much so that young, poverty-stricken people are forced to be Proxies for wealthy Patrons, and have to take punishment for the misdeeds those Patrons commit. One of the protagonists, Sid (short for Sidney Carton, as orphans are named after literary characters) is such a Proxy for Knox, a brilliant yet spoiled Patron. In this world, debt is impossible to avoid and dangerous to have, and the human body is completely upgradeable and even able to be hacked.
I must admit, I found the technological aspects of the novel a little difficult to picture and process. How can data be in the blood? But that was easy to ignore in favor of the captivating way in which London wrote the action sequences in the book. There wasn't a dull moment in the book, and the ending was shocking and satisfying in a way which is not common in YA literature nowadays. Yet it still left me gasping to read the sequel, which I will hopefully be picking up from the library very soon....more
I started this novel by listening to it on audiobook, but soon decided to switch to reading it as an ebook. This was because I just couldn’t get intoI started this novel by listening to it on audiobook, but soon decided to switch to reading it as an ebook. This was because I just couldn’t get into the story as read by Heather Corrigan and Zach Appelman, especially as I found Corrigan’s voice to be rather annoying and difficult to listen to. The action was also hard to follow, as I was unable to “flip back” to previous pages, as it were, and reread confusing passages. For a while, I even contemplated giving up on the book, something which I rarely do.
But, as soon as I switched to reading a physical version, the book grabbed my attention and held it, until I was racing through it, desperate to get to the end. I was thrilled by the way two seemingly disconnected threads of story finally came together. Flashbacks to different points in the story did a great job of connecting the dots, and the end result was gripping.
The sci-fi element of this novel was not based around new technology, but old, possibly the oldest: the spoken word. Instead of high-tech equipment, the Poets (agents named after famous poets like T. S. Eliot and Charlotte Brontë) of the Organization use carefully crafted words to get behind people’s defenses and persuade them to do their bidding. I have had an amateur interest in linguistics in high school and I found some of the subjects the book touched on to be fascinating. I was especially interested in neurolinguistics, and found myself wanting more discussion of the subject.
The greatest surprise in this novel was how well Barry ended up crafting believable characters and a love story out of the chaos of the action. I started out disliking Emily, one of the protagonists, and eventually found that I was really rooting for her. Wil, the other protagonist, was an enigma at the beginning, and I found it difficult to understand him and his motivations, but towards the end, it became clear that Barry made him so deliberately.
I thought this was a strong sci-fi novel, and could not put it down towards the end. I will definitely look to reading more Max Barry in the future. ...more
After listening to this book, I fear I may have to stop listening to Doctor Who New Adventure books. When I first started watching the series, I becamAfter listening to this book, I fear I may have to stop listening to Doctor Who New Adventure books. When I first started watching the series, I became obsessed, and had to get my hands on as many materials as possible. I bought every New Adventure book that came into my neighborhood Borders (the only bookstore which carried them), at least until they went bankrupt. This was before Doctor Who blew up in the States, now you can find the books anywhere.
There were quite a few of the books that I did enjoy, and I always liked listening to the audiobooks, especially if they were read by one of the show’s stars. Arthur Darvill, as Rory, narrated especially well. It was extremely disappointing, therefore, that The King’s Dragon did not capture my interest at all. I found the book to be way too full of useless talking and exposition that led nowhere. Where was the action? Doctor Who is, after all, an action-adventure kind of show, and the books should reflect that fact. In essence, I was bored. ...more
It does seem a little odd that I've placed this book in my "unputdownable" shelf, yet only given it 3 stars. I suppose the reason is that while the ThIt does seem a little odd that I've placed this book in my "unputdownable" shelf, yet only given it 3 stars. I suppose the reason is that while the The Long War is compulsively readable, it's... not that good. Just like in The Long Earth which came before, I found the central idea of the book incredibly fascinating. What would happen if suddenly there were infinite other Earths humanity could travel to? What would that mean and how would we react? It's a great sci-fi concept, but I'm afraid the execution falls a bit flat.
While reading I could definitely sense some of Terry Pratchett's wonderful humor (not having read any other Stephen Baxter, I can't comment on his contribution as much), and there were parts of the novel that made me laugh and think. However, those moments did not make up for the severe lack of forward motion in the book. There are so many characters going through so many actions, that the overall action paradoxically stops. Things seem to happen extremely abruptly, but nothing really seems to come of them. For instance, at one point in the novel, the Trolls (sapient, humanoid creatures capable of "stepping" from world to world) just disappear, and various characters decide to go after them. What they find, however, are other sentient creatures called Elves, Kobolds, and Beagles that have their own agendas. The plotline containing Beagles (dog-like creatures) is so confusing and peppered with terrible speech patterns, that I found myself cringing and reading faster to get through it all.
Another missed opportunity is a plotline about a group of scientists exploring out to Earth East 20 Million. The journey itself is fascinating, they come across worlds that are so different from the Earth we know that there can be no true comparison. However, nothing really comes of the journey, when they reach Earth East 20 Million all they do is put down a plaque commemorating their achievement, and then head back to Datum Earth. So anticlimactic. There seems to be an attempt at telling a story with a 15 year old participant in the journey, Roberta Golding, who is so smart that she understands jokes so well they're not funny for her. But I just found the girl unlikeable and her personal journey uninteresting. I got to the end of that plotline and thought, "That's it? What was the point of that?"
There are several other plotlines I could likewise dissect and criticize, but I think those two were the most heinous, largely because of the potential they had. Encounters with other sapient races endemic to an Earth might have been so, so cool. But instead the result was just baffling and nonsensical. An epic exploration to a faraway Earth likewise could have been awesome, instead it was boring. As to the titular "war," it doesn't really seem to happen. I admittedly read the last few chapters late at night, but I had to flip back and reread a section where war is threatened, and then seems to just fizzle out. Once again, a disappointing end to a potentially promising thread of story.
In any case, I'll probably read the next book in the series, because I'm an optimist. I'm such a fan of Terry Pratchett that I really, really hope he'll turn it around. But I'm not expecting too much, maybe I'll like the next book all the better for that....more
Like every other Dan Brown book I've read (and I think I've read them all), I raced through this book in two sittings. The short, zippy chapters fullLike every other Dan Brown book I've read (and I think I've read them all), I raced through this book in two sittings. The short, zippy chapters full of action do a fantastic job of urging you along. The cliffhangers at the end of nearly each chapter make it impossible for you to put the book down. That manipulation is one of my biggest problems with Brown's writing. Instead of creating good characters and coherent plot, he simply writes in a manner that allows you to keep reading without thinking too hard.
Because when you do, the book really falls apart.
Except for the main twist towards the end of the book (which, I admit, was done well), I anticipated every twist and red herring. Everything was telegraphed so obviously that I would read a line and immediately predict what was going to happen next. Another thing that distracted me was Brown's clunky prose, and his horrible tendency to digress into badly written lectures on religion and Dante. Believe me, I understand what it's like to want people to acknowledge how much you know about a subject, but Brown's writing leans more toward pedantry than exposition.
As for the plot, it really makes no sense when you break it down. Like in every other Brown novel, you start wondering why the villain makes it so easy for Robert Langdon. This book is different from the other Langdon novels in that it begins in medias res, as it were. He wakes up in a foreign hospital after receiving a head wound that he does not remember, and is immediately pursued by armed thugs, prompting him to retrace his steps and figure out the significance of an artifact he has in his possession. Sure enough, there are clues at every turn, left by a very considerate criminal mastermind who, typical for a Brown antagonist, has a flair for drama.
I'm not sure if this was intentional or not, but it seemed to me that Brown was winking at his readers when he provided Langdon with the absolute perfect partner in Sienna Brooks, a woman who is not only a certified genius, but a prodigy in languages, acting, and neuroscience. Every awkward situation Langdon gets himself into, she helps him out of, even when faced against government agencies who "never fail". It has never been so apparent how incompetent yet dumbly lucky Langdon is, and one wonders why people keep picking him to participate in their schemes.
The ultimate threat in this novel is not a physical bomb like in Angels and Demons or an information bomb like in The Da Vinci Code, but a more insidious and global threat, with real consequences for humanity. I found myself reading Brown's depictions of Apocalypse resulting from overpopulation with some skepticism. Of course I know that overpopulation is a dire problem, which results in many global catastrophes, but I thought Brown was being overly dramatic and fatalistic. Not being a Dante scholar, I can't comment on Brown's interpretation of The Divine Comedy, but based on his track record, I can assume much of it is inaccurate or twisted to fit his needs. ...more
I absolutely loved Cherie Priest's first novel in her Clockwork Century, Boneshaker, and hoped that this second book in the series would live up to itI absolutely loved Cherie Priest's first novel in her Clockwork Century, Boneshaker, and hoped that this second book in the series would live up to it. However, I must say that it did not grab me in the same way, and I found myself waiting for the end of the book, which is not a pleasant feeling to have.
For a start, the characters in this book are drawn in broader strokes than in the first novel. In Boneshaker, we really get to know Briar and Zeke. We learn about their pasts and motivations for their actions in Priest's clear prose amidst some really excellent action scenes. Clementine keeps the action tense and exciting, but forgoes any real character development, perhaps due to its short length.
In Clementine the action unfolds through the eyes of two characters. First is Maria Isabella Boyd, a former spy for the Confederate army turned actress turned private investigator for the Pinkerton Agency. Though Priest spells out her life story in considerable detail, the reader never really gets a sense of who she is as a person, and her character stays stale throughout the novel. The other, Captain Croggon Beauregard Hainey, was previously introduced in Boneshaker, but I must confess I remember little about him. His role in this novel is the same as so many captains in literature, the indefatigable seeker of something precious. In this case, it is his airship, which was stolen from him to carry Union supplies, or so he thinks.
Belle and Hainey meet and end up teaming together after a series of contrived revelations inform Belle that the ship is carrying something that will decimate her hometown. She ignores her mission objective and decides to work with Hainey. The resulting action is entertaining, but not memorable.
Overall, I would say this is a disappointing sequel to Boneshaker. I will probably still read the following novels in Priest's series though, as I hope the skill she showed in Boneshaker will make a reappearance....more